The World is my Lobster........I never did like oysters








On the road between Isbister in the north of North Mavine and the rocky cliffs of Mavis Grind  is a small side road leading to Sullom, this is where the very first bombs of the Second World War were dropped in November 1939 by German bombers aiming to destroy some flying boats that were sheltering in the Voe (a Shetland word for long sea inlet) below Sullom.  They missed the flying boats but apparently killed a rabbit or two and hit an unoccupied house.  The bombing made headline news over the whole of the UK at the time, and a photo was published of a man standing next to the crater and holding up a dead rabbit – though local wags said it was actually bought from Herd's Butcher's Shop in Lerwick.  Shetlanders like to think the popular wartime song Run Rabbit, Run Rabbit, was based on this event, though it had been penned sometime earlier.







































This is what Wikipedia has to say about it.


This song was written for Noel Gay's show 'The Little Dog Laughed' which opened on 11 October 1939, at a time when most of the major London theatres were closed. It was a popular song during the War, especially after Flanagan and Allen changed the lyrics to poke fun at the Germans (e.g. Run Adolf, Run Adolf, Run, Run, Run........)


In case you are too young to know the song these are the lyrics

On the farm, every Friday

On the farm, it's rabbit pie day.

So, every Friday that ever comes along,

I get up early and sing this little song

Run rabbit – run rabbit – Run! Run! Run!

Run rabbit – run rabbit – Run! Run! Run!

Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang!

Goes the farmer's gun.

Run, rabbit, run, rabbit, run.

Run rabbit – run rabbit – Run! Run! Run!

Don't give the farmer his fun! Fun! Fun!

He'll get by

Without his rabbit pie

So run rabbit – run rabbit – Run! Run! Run!

The lyrics were used as a defiant dig at the allegedly ineffectual Luftwaffe.


Sullom Voe was used as a strategic base in World War II then when oil was discovered converted into a huge oil terminal.


Its strange - I went to see the place, and though I can't say I was horrified at the extent of the development, it certainly was large, and of course to a tourist, visiting a scenic island, seemed somewhat out of place, but on looking at the photos I took of it, the developement hardly shows at all.  It really is true that to a certain extent we 'see what we want, or expect to see' and if it is equally true that 'the camera does not lie'  then Sullom Voe can have only had a beneficial effect on Shetland.


Certainly those resident locals I have asked about it and who would have known Shetland before oil was discovered and the terminal built in the early 1970's have with one accord said it was the making of Shetland, and wondered what would have happened to the islands without the oil


There was a massive boom in the economy whilst it was being built and the oil fields were producing at their peak, then this was gradually tailing away, when gas was discovered and now there are again hundreds of workers being imported to Shetland, so much so that huge floating accommodation ships are moored at various places round the island, and rented accommodation pretty well everywhere is at a premium


Opposite the site is what looks like an old concrete Naafi block left over from the Second World War, so dilapidated that I wouldn’t have bothered to photograph it, but looking up about Sullom Voe online it appears a  Texan born heiress who owns 'gambling joints' over in The States is now intending to open a casino there - Mind you the article was dated 1st April!!!


If you remember watching Local Hero, which dates to the early 80's there is a bit where two old local crofters, just about to become millionaires are saying to one another 'Aye, Strange Times' then nearly starting to dance a jig, but their dourness just holding it under......  One can't help feeling that although the film is set in the West Highlands it  surely must have had in mind the development at Sullom Voe


I have taken a photo of the low walls of a ruined croft just there, and I just could imagine one of them having lived in it.

70-sullomvoe1 70-sullomvoe3 70-sullomvoe5 70-sullomvoe2 bomb crater

This was not the photo which made front page news but from a local scrapbook

Ruined Croft


Above - Ruined Croft on the edge of Sullom Voe




Below - The entire Panorama of the Sullom Voe Terminal taken from the roadside nearest to the Terminal

sullom sullom--voe

Above - Looking Across the bay from the new Casino Site



Below - Close up taking as unflattering photo as I could

All in all, I would guess it was not a bad price to pay for a happy, prosperous and vibrant Shetland.